The Waves of Feminism

The women’s liberation movement and the second wave of feminism, or what is otherwise referred to as “the largest social movement in the history of the United State” (Baxandall, 705), occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. Now regarded as modern feminism, this movement most often consisted of achieving, self- confident women, often including groups of college-educated young students. Though such patterns hold true, the types of women involved in this call for change branched across ethnicities, family backgrounds, employment, and education. These women gathered together and fought against gender discrimination, rape, abuse, and in equality throughout all aspects of life.

Support for upholding domestic roles and the overall subordination of women was emphasized after World War II, when the Cold War seemed to threaten familial stability and social order. American culture began to encourage political and gender conformity, but to the surprise of many, not all women would agree to such restrictions. Women who once held high paying industrial jobs while men were off at war refused to revert back to domesticated roles upon their return and instead sought after jobs outside of the home, even those in which they were clearly discriminated in. Many women pulled together, joined labor unions, formed legislative committees and fought for gender equality.

Several accomplishments have been made over the decades since the second wave of feminism began. In 1973, for example, legislation was passed making abortion legal. Rape shield laws and federal guidelines against coercive sterilization have been established, and educational textbooks have been adjusted to promote gender equality and equal opportunity. Feminism is a far-reaching movement that affects us—not merely politically and professionally—but socially as well. Though many of the social changes took time to become apparent and concrete, they have nevertheless affected how women may work, behave, and have faith in equal opportunity and a brighter future. Even dress has evolved from girdles and garter belts to a more comfortable and even athletic attire.  New vocabulary such as “sexist”, “Ms.” And “gender” have been brought to light, and even more importantly, so has the female voice.

Unfortunately, where there is change, there is often controversy. This movement was no exception, bringing about as much progressive change as argument. Unfortunately, the movement as a whole has been quite poorly documented and lacks much of the needed scholarly research, thus leading to widespread misinformation and poor representation by the media. False stereotypes have arisen that feminists are men-haters, looking for competition rather than equality. Conservatives often attribute divorce, out-of-wedlock childbirth, and the decline in social structure to the feminist-inspired acts of leaving domineering or abusive men. Topics such as abortion, contraception for young adults, gay rights, and women in the military are still being debated among both politicians and members of the general public today. The women’s liberation movement and the positive social change insured by the actions of feminists are beyond impactful in life around the globe today, but the fight is far from over. New controversies and debates are sure to arise, but we, as human beings, must never waiver in the quest for gender equality. We must stand together and pursue such positive change as powerfully today as it was then.



Baxandall, Rosalyn, and Linda Gordon. Dear Sisters: Dispatches From The Women’s Liberation Movement. Basic Books, 2000.

Kerber, Linda K., et al. Women’s America: Refocusing the Past. Page 705-718. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Napikoski, Linda. “What Was the Women’s Liberation Movement?” ThoughtCo, 1 Aug. 2017,

12 thoughts on “The Waves of Feminism

  1. Great post! You made a lo of good points. One of the things that bothers me most is the fact that some people don’t think women should have the right to make their own choices. I look back on the women that helped raise me, my mom and grandmothers and they all chose how to live their lives. My maternal grandmother worked for a while and after retirement she was a housewife by choice. My grandfather did all of the outside work and my grandma took care of the house. My mother on the other hand worked her whole life and still does and she is what made me grow up to be the independent woman I am today and nothing is wrong with that.

    1. I completely agree with you you should be able to grow up and make your own destiny and achieve all of your dreams. My Dad and grandfathers raised me as the Father figures in my life and they always told me to make my own destiny and that has always stuck in my mind and drives me to do the best that I can. You should be able to make your own choices no one should make them for you.

    2. My family is set up the same way as yours! My great-grandmother was the stay at home mom and tended to all of my great aunts and uncles while my great-grandfather was at the factory making their income. Yet, decades later and my mom has always been the supplier (my dad has a job but he has been more the soccer dad type). Both ladies in my life have done these by choices just like yours.

    3. As a mom myself, the choice of whether or not to stay home with your children is a difficult one. I was raised to work hard to everything I have, so allowing my husband to be the main support of our family was a difficult decision. After a few months at home I ended up going back to work part time, and that was the best decision for everyone. I am just thankful to the women that came before us that made it so that I was able to make my own choices in the matter. I have a lot of respect for women who stay home with their kids by choice, it is no easy job that’s for sure.

  2. Good post! While reading, it seems to me that the second wave of feminism was almost inevitable. History shows that when you restrict a certain group of people from living freely, it nearly always ends with a liberation movement of some sort. Therefore it’s no surprise that feminism’s second wave happened when it did; people can stand to be forcibly submissive for so long before change is sought after.

  3. Your description and explanation of modern feminism was truly an engaging read. You not only defined it but gave detailed examples of those who were involved in the call for change. It is evident to me that liberation movements will continue on so long as restrictions of rights is a problem in society. In modern feminism, we see victims of misogyny rising up against the system which oppresses them. They fought for liberation, and still fight for liberation. While many accomplishments have been made over the course of several decades, gender equality has not fully been achieved.

    Additionally, our oppressors sometimes still attempt to reverse the hard work and accomplishments that have been made, so it almost seems like a never-ending battle.
    You raise a lot of good points about the controversy involved in modern feminism. The false stereotypes, I find, are often what deters people from supporting the feminist movement. Overall, I agree with you. The quest for gender equality is extremely important and we must continue to fight, no matter how strenuous the battle might become.

  4. The fact that false stereotypes have arisen that feminists are men-haters, looking for competition rather than equality, is just an excuse for men to think that women may be “acting out”. Women are not looking for competition, just an equal chance. There will always be controversy over this topic.

    1. Too true! Misrepresentation also has a tendency of hurting the feminist movement rather than helping it. Those few who use feminism as a tool to hate on men and give blanket-shame to the entire gender are fueling a fire of false stereotyping. Throughout the history of the fight for gender equality, there has been division even among those women who were fighting for such change. Hopefully people will begin to understand that feminism is a fight for equality, not a competition for supremacy.

  5. I really enjoyed your description of modern feminism and the spotlight on how the media has twisted it so fiercely to try and draw negative attention to this. Feminism isn’t about hating men, or trying to compete with them, it is simply about wanting equality. We have certainly come a long way in nearly 60 years, but there is a lot of wars still left to be one. I am grateful for the women who have come before us that fought for the rights we have today.

    1. I agree with your definition of feminism in that it’s not about hating men or wanting to be better than them, but that’s not what everyone who considers themself a feminist believes. That’s probably a similar problem to when the movement first began and probably will continue to be a huge problem.

  6. Although abortion is such a heated topic I think this is a big women for women too. For legislature to pass the law to legalize abortion means that women have some backing. I see it as the government finally telling women that they had control over there own body and destiny. For once women had the only say in what was going to happen with there life. This can also help with rape victims. Many rape victims get pregnant then they are stuck with all this emotion. This law really gives them the right to make a choice for themselves.

  7. Aubrey, even when I was doing my research on my digital project, there wasn’t much information. I had to sincerely dig and scrabble academic journals. On occasions I had to do general searches instead of ones particularly for women. My assumption is that history on women is not as important to this world as history of men

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